FOX AND HOUNDS
This is the best game to start learning board games. It is simple and yet illustrates the basic principles of game playing. Players take turns to move. The players have opposing objectives – the fox must reach the other end of the board and the hounds combine to prevent this.
Diagram 1 (Starting Position)
Play with draughts pieces or counters – or, if none are available, use pawns (Diagram 1). All pieces move one square diagonally on the dark squares. The lone fox (white) goes first and can move forwards or backwards whereas the hounds can only move forwards (Diagram 2 illustrates).
The fox wins by reaching the opposite side. The hounds win by blocking the fox so it cannot move. There are no captures or jumping. The game cannot be drawn.
With “best play”, the hounds should win. The key idea is to keep the hounds in formation as they zigzag up the board according to the board pattern. No gap should be left for the fox to escape through.
Playing systematically leads to consistent results for the hounds. A typical winning position for the hounds is shown in Diagram 5. The fox is pressed against the side and has no more moves.
The best chance for the fox is to disrupt the formation and force the opponent to decide which piece to play out of sequence. The fox can only win if black makes a mistake.
- The players should reverse roles after each game to appreciate the game from the other side.
- Try changing whether the fox goes first or second. Does it make any difference to the outcome?